Archive for the ‘Reputation Management’ Category

Dealing with Negative Law Firm Reviews

(This is an excerpt from my recently published book, The Lawyer Marketing Book.)



“Looking good is the best revenge.” 

Ivana Trump
Model & Business Woman


If you don’t have at least one negative online review, you will.  It’s the world we live in today and every firm needs a strategy for dealing with bad reviews.

In late 2013, I was contacted by Tom, the managing partner of a 10-attorney litigation boutique, about helping his firm improve their overall marketing direction.  I was a couple years out of my sales career and it showed, because I made a cardinal error early in our meeting.  I showed Tom a negative review someone had posted about his firm on Google.

I spent the rest of the meeting trying to regain Tom’s attention.  The negative review absolutely consumed him.  He couldn’t understand why someone would possibly write a bad comment about his firm, and he was even more distraught that the person was allowed to do so anonymously.  I could have helped Tom and his firm, but we never got that far.

Online reviews have become part of our social fabric.  That have the potential for great good, and also great abuse.  But the reality for business owners is that they must learn how to manage the issue.  Below are key takeaways and tips for doing just that:

  1. Expect to get some negative reviews. I’ve seen everything from very legitimate ones, to ones where the reviewer actually had the wrong law firm because of a similar name.  Certainly, competitors have posted negative reviews against other law firms in the past, and that won’t stop anytime soon.
  1. Don’t respond to negative reviews. Opinions vary quite a bit on this issue, with many marketers saying just the opposite.  My opinion is based on four truths:
    1. When you respond, you invite the reviewer to post even more damaging stuff about you, exasperating the problem further.
    2. When you respond, you have shown the reviewer you care, which gives them an incentive to post bad comments on many other review sites.
    3. Most bad reviews are poorly written and ooze with irrationality which will cause future readers to dismiss them.
    4. It’s much more powerful to have your positive reviews fight your reputation battle.
  1. Don’t lose sleep over it. Whether it’s a valid critique or outlandishly false, it won’t help you to dwell on a negative review.
  1. Ask the review site to remove it. It is generally not easy to have any type of review taken down by the publishing website.  However, some do have “community guidelines”, the violation of which will cause a review to be pulled down.  Usually the language must be threatening or vulgar, but it does not hurt to submit a removal request.  Keep in mind, however, that the publishing site will often contact the reviewer before removing it, which can trigger the additional problems in 2(a) and (b) above.
  1. Bury negative reviews in positive ones. If 37 out of 40 reviews about the TV you’re interested in are excellent, you will dismiss the 3 people who gave it low marks as being impossible to please.  This psychology is no different for your law firm.
  1. Don’t have staff members post fake reviews. As soon as you have to let a person go, they will have something unethical you’ve done hanging over your head.
  1. Don’t post your own positive reviews. There are some cases where review sites have sued lawyers for posting bogus reviews.  These cases are complicated, and often involve an initial lawsuit filed by the law firm, but you don’t want something like that coming out later, as unlikely as that would be.
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Writing the Best Lawyer Bio

A well-written website bio is a critical piece of a powerful online resume.  Even the most highly referred prospective client is going to check you out online, and one of the best places to find information is on your law firm’s website.  It’s also understood that the attorney controls this information, so it better be good.  Below is a piece I put together for a presentation that provides tips and examples for writing the best narrative.

Remember:  A prospective client is initially interested in only one thing…

Are you the best lawyer to represent him or her today?


Impactful bios start with who you are and what you do.  (But those openings really are telling the prospect what you can do for them.)  Examples…

Dale is a trial attorney with over 30 years of courtroom experience.

Karen represents small, medium and large businesses in complex real estate transactions.

Tom has earned a national reputation for producing strong results for clients in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases.

For more than two decades, Jennifer has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with clients facing incredibly challenging circumstances.

Bill represents insurance companies and corporations in complex cases involving coverage limitations, errors and omissions, and third party liability.

Examples of ineffective opening bio statements…

Dan graduated from the Cumberland School of Law in 2000 and joined the firm shortly after.

Sue grew up in Philadelphia and earned her undergraduate degree in journalism from Penn State, before studying law at Rutgers.

Prior to joining the firm, Sam worked at a large Dallas law firm known for handling complex real estate deals.

Important items to cover in your bio…

  • „  Experience (two decades, more than 15 years)
  • „  Awards (AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, named to Georgia’s list of Legal Elites)
  • „  Dollar Figures (completed acquisitions totaling more than $16 million, recovered over $50M in compensation for clients)
  • „  Speaking Engagements (frequent speaker at national and local conferences)
  • „ Unique Knowledge (Prior to starting her career as a lawyer, Joan was a Registered Nurse for 8 years at the Emory University Health Care System.)
  • „  Approach (handles each case with incredible attention to detail)
  • „  Education (NEVER first… unless Harvard, Yale, Stanford.  A graduate of Harvard Law School, Reba works with…)
  • „  Clerking Experience
  • „  Significant Cases or Matters
  • „  Quote (what does helping clients mean to you)

Key Point:  Revisit your bio at least every 6 months.  It can always be improved and the chances are you have something significant to add.

Key Point II:  Keep in mind that sometimes a prospect must sell you to another person in their organization or family.  Make that task very easy for them.

Strong Bio Example:



Marketing Your Firm’s Charitable Work

There are so many positives that come from doing charitable work.  Because of this, I’m a strong advocate of having my law firm clients participate in at least one community service project each year.

Below are 4 ways charitable work can positively impact a law firm.  But please keep one overriding thought as you read them:

The reason to participate in charitable work is because it’s the right thing to do.  None of the below would be worthwhile if you weren’t helping others.

First, your charitable work matters to clients.  Large companies know this, which is why we often see charitable donations made during halftimes of highly watched sporting events.  Law firms also need differentiators to win the best clients.  It’s likely there are local firms with equally as impressive experience, education and fee structures as yours.  Charitable work gives you the opportunity to show that there are things that matter to your attorneys and staff outside of making money.  Furthermore, if a decision maker for a potential client is involved with a certain charity (e.g. American Cancer Society), and sees that you are too, your firm naturally has a much better chance of earning their business.

Second, it strengthens the relationships between a law firm’s lawyers and staff.  I’ve even seen two employees of a firm that didn’t get along repair a relationship after being teamed at a community service project.  Well-chosen events also bring employees’ spouses and children together for a really great cause.  It sends everyone home feeling good not only about the contribution they made, but also about the place they (or their spouse or parent) work.  This is an often underestimated benefit of charitable work, and goes a long way toward building a really great workplace… and earning the support of family members who tolerate the long hours and stress that are part of a successful law practice. Read More »


You Got a Negative Online Review. Now What? (Part II)

(This is the second part of a two-part post regarding how to deal with negative online reviews about your law firm.  For Part I, click here.)

Ask the review site to remove the negative review.  Almost all review sites have community guidelines that prohibit hateful, threatening, or even unsubstantiated reviews.  If someone has posted a review that falls into one of these categories, it’s often possible to have that review taken down.

Well-written reviews that don’t use objectionable language are hard to get removed, but it never hurts to ask.  I’ve seen one of the most popular review sites remove a well-written negative review about an attorney along with all the positive reviews.  While it’s hard to understand why they would do that, it accomplished our goal… which was to eliminate the negative impact of the bad review on the practice.

Contact the client via phone if you can identify him or her, and try to work through the issue.  Also, even if you have to agree to disagree on the material issue, ask them to remove the review.   At that point, they have three options. They can leave it up as is, remove it, or perhaps add a supplemental post.  I’ve seen unhappy clients actually post a positive review about the lawyer contacting them later to work-out a problem.  This can go a long way with future potential clients, because it shows you care and are willing to go the extra mile to make a client happy.

(Note that I recommended contacting the person by phone, and not via written correspondence.  The reason?  Anything you write at this point may end up online, too.  Not only is it safer to have a verbal conversation about the issue, your tone may go a long way with the unhappy client, which is something that is often lost in emails and letters.) Read More »


You Got a Negative Online Review. Now What? (Part I)

There is no shortage of advice on the internet about what to do when your business has received a bad online review.  Notwithstanding all the debate, there is one absolute truth when it comes to negative reviews.

If you are in business long enough, you will get one.

It could be a very legitimate complaint, a crazy client, or a competitor looking to damage your reputation. I’ve even seen a review from an understandably disgruntled client, but one that posted it for the wrong attorney!

Below is the first of a two-part post that will cover four options for dealing with negative online reviews:

Don’t respond.
Ask the review website to remove the negative info.
Contact the client via phone if you know who it is.
Bury the negative review in positive ones.

In most cases, don’t respond. This advice may come as a surprise to many. But the reality is that if a client is angry enough to go online, jump through a number of hoops, and write about their perceived poor experience, you are unlikely to change their mind. And responding can help fuel the fire, in more ways than one. Read More »